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I remember my grandmother, then in her seventies, sitting by the bedside of her older sister, a nonsmoker who was dying from metastatic lung cancer that had spread to her bones. This was in Florida, in the summer, in the heat, and every morning for two full weeks my grandmother would get up, walk to the bus that would take her to the hospital, and then sit there till nightfall as her sister thrashed and screamed in pain that was stronger than every narcotic they gave her.

Then my grandmother would get back on the bus, walk back to the empty apartment, and cry.

A Dog Walks into a Nursing Home

Resilience was one of those behaviors. Those who had it were better equipped to deal with adversity than those who did not, and while some people seemed to have been born with it, or developed it, like a muscle, over time in response to the challenges of living, the positive psychologists believed that resilience could be taught, like swimming or typing could be taught, and that it would inoculate against stress, bad news, and serious trauma. It would deflect whatever curves might be thrown by life itself.


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Pransky was lovable, brilliant and obedient, but a leash, to her, was simply an invitation to pull, as if she were the boat and Halpern the water-skier. Pransky did not like to be restrained.

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Halpern might have written a humorous book about Pransky's irrepressible high spirits, or a sentimental book about how Pransky brought comfort to dozens of elders living on borrowed time, or a memoir about how her bond with her dog led to all kinds of self-discovery and growth. But such books are already a dime a dozen, and Halpern is too original a journalist to take the well-trodden path.


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Instead, Halpern sets the story of Pransky's new job in an ancient framework. Restraint--the requirement that was such a challenge for Pransky--is one of Plato's four cardinal virtues, along with courage, wisdom and justice.

Lessons in the Good Life from an Unlikely Teacher

Some years after Plato, Augustine added three theological virtues--faith, hope and love--to make up the familiar list of seven. Without restraint, Pransky could never have worked as a therapy dog.

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Restraint enabled her "to be comfortable around people who were wheezing or limping or moaning," to "walk by a plate of food on the floor and pretend not to be interested," and to be calm "around children--even running, squealing children. Virtue can take a dog only so far. An unknown error has occurred.

A Dog Walks Into a Nursing Home by Sue Halpern | ziwopycaxa.tk: Books

Sue Halpern is the author of five previous books. Download cover. And not to the recipient alone.

Smart, spirited, and instinctively compassionate, Pransky turned out to be not only a terrific therapist but an unerring moral compass.